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Charlotte Brontë and Victorian Era
Charlotte Brontë was one of the most Prominent writers of literary Victorianism, and his most famous book, “Jane Eyre” is a prime example of this movement’s style and concerns.
The literature of the Victorian age (1837-1901) Entered a new period after the romantic revival. The literature of this era was Preceded by romanticism and was followed by modernism or realism. Hence, it can Also be called a fusion of romantic and realist style of writing. Victorian novels tend to be idealized portraits of difficult lives in which hard Work, perseverance, love and luck win out in the end. They were usually Inclined towards being of improving nature with a central moral lesson at Heart. Literature in the Victorian age tended to come face to face with realism. This reflected more on Practical problems and interests. It becomes a powerful instrument for human Progress. Victorian literature seems to deviate from the strict principle of “art for art’s sake” and asserts its moral purpose. The overall contours of Victorian literature are consistently shaped By the influence of colonial ideology, which informed the collective Unconscious of the British public during the entire period.
The book, a critique of Victorian assumptions about Gender and social class, became one of the most successful novels of its era, Both critically and commercially. Autobiographical elements are also Recognizable throughout Jane Eyre, since Charlotte Brontë reflects her life in The book. Like Charlotte, Jane becomes a governess, and this is a neutral Vantage point from which to observe and describe the oppressive social ideas And practices of 19th century Victorian society. It was a critique of most of Victorian Society´s major institutions such as: education, family, social class or religion.
Bildungsroman Is conceived as the main genre of this era. The plot of Jane Eyre follows the form of a Bildungsroman, Which is a novel that tells the story of a child´s maturation and focuses on The emotions and experiences that accompany and incite his or her growth to Adulthood. But the Bildungsroman plot of Jane Eyre, and the book´s element of social criticism, are filtered through a Third literary tradition, that of the Gothic horror story. It is not a Gothic Novel, but contains gothic elements. And these elements are remote landscapes, Mysterious occurrences, and supernatural experiences, all of which are intended To create an atmosphere of suspense and fear. Jane´s encounters with ghosts and Dark secrets. With these gothic elements we learn that something terrible is Going to happen. So we can say that she is the famous female gothic heroine.
The most important gothic element is Doppelgänger or the ghostly double of a Living person. In the novel the double of Jane Eyre is Bertha Mason, the Madwoman in the attic, who tries to ruin Rochester and Jane´ s happiness. Bertha Has if she follows her passion and her temptation for her one love Mr. Rochester. In this way, Bertha and Jane Serve as doubles for one another how are described with passion and fire, how Their moods are reflected through nature, and how Bertha serves as a warning For what Jane’s passion, like Bertha’s own, could become.
Religion is also important In this Era and in the book. The master of the Lowood school illustrates the Dangers and hypocrisies that Charlotte Bronte perceived in the 19th Century evangelical movement. He adopts the rhetoric of evangelism when he Claims to be purging his students of pride, but master´s method of subjecting Them to various privations and humiliations, is entirely un-Christian.
Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to find the right balance between Moral duty and earthly pleasure, between obligation to her spirit and attention To her body.
Social class is another Important theme. Jane Eyre is critical of Victorian England´s strict social Hierarchy. Bronte´s exploration of the complicated social position of Governesses is perhaps the novel´s most important treatment of this theme. Jane´s manners, sophistication and education are those of an aristocrat, Because Victorian governesses, who tutored children in etiquette as well as Academics, were expected to possess the “culture” of the aristocracy. Yet, as Paid employees, they were more or less treated as servants; thus, Jane remains Penniless and powerless while at Thornfield. Jane´s understanding of the double Standard crystallizes when she becomes aware of her feelings for Rochester; she Is his intellectual, but not his social, equal. Jane´s distress, which appears Most strongly in chapter 17, seems to be Bronte´s critique of Victorian class attitudes.
Another important theme are gender Stereotypes. In the 19th century, women did not have the rights They have today. They could not vote, couldn´t sue or be sued, had extremely Limited control over personal property after marriage and were subordinated by Men. In the novel, Jane struggles continually to achieve equality and to Overcome oppression. In addition to class hierarchy, she must fight against Patriarchal domination, against those who believe women to be inferior to men And try to treat them as such. Three central male figures threaten her desire For equality and dignity: Master of Lowood school, Rochester and Rivers. All Three are misogynistic on some level. Each tries to keep Jane in a submissive Position, where she is unable to express her own thoughts and feelings. An Important theme is love versus autonomy. Jane searches, not just for romantic love, but also for a sense of being Valued, of belonging. Her fear of losing her autonomy motivates her refusal of Rochester´s marriage proposal. Jane believes that “marrying” Rochester while he Remains legally tied to Bertha would mean rendering herself a mistress and Sacrificing her own integrity for the sake of emotional gratification.
Charlotte does not claim to speak of colonization, but we see in the novel some element of colonization As Bertha Mason. Bertha Mason was not English, had dark skin and is described As a madwoman, a being without feelings, without empathy. She is compared to a Vampire, a hyena, a tiger. She is bestial and uncivilized.
We therefore deduce that the conception of Bertha Mason is the conception That the Europeans had of the colonized countries. She represents the Inferiority of the people of colonized nations.
To sum up, Jane Eyre is the first feminist “novel of formation” or “bildungsroman” and a realist novel concerned with the Situation of governesses, where Jane ends up finding her identity against a Misogynist society.